By Olivia Smucker
For Greg Smucker, manager of Snyder Paints & Wallpaper, people and the planet are both high priorities.
Whether helping neighbors recycle metal instead of putting it into the landfill or just engaging in conversation with a customer about their project, it’s about relating to people and the environment surrounding them.
More specifically, the Goshen, Ind., store has been engaging in creative creation care the best way they know how: through paint recycling. Although the idea of recycled paint is not new, it is still a newer concept on the small town level. The goal is to keep leftover paint out of the landfill and waterways.
In order to create the recycled product called Re-coat, Snyder Paints partners with RepcoLite, a company based in Holland, Mich. which has the machinery needed to properly remix and rebrand the product. Customers can pay $2 to turn in their unused paint and cans. The cans are recycled and the paint is processed by color. From there, the paint is repackaged into one of 20 color choices, with 50% or more of the new can containing reclaimed paint.
Reclaimed paint attractive to consumers
A gallon of Re-coat is also more affordable than the same color made new, often at least $10 cheaper. This is different from similar products in the industry, where eco-friendly paints and decor can be more expensive and thus less desirable than regular products.
The affordable paint is attractive to customers, especially for industrial painters who make up the largest customer base for Snyder Paints.
“Industries are getting more aggressive about looking for new technologies,” said Smucker. Besides vehicle exhaust, paint and building materials are some of the largest emitters of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which release gases that are harmful to the atmosphere and also contribute to the striking “new paint” smell. Because consumers are moving toward favoring “green” items and spaces, companies are following suit to increase client and employee satisfaction. Lower emissions equals higher sales, as well as increased health and safety in the buildings.
In fact, because of the large amount of paint used in industrial operations, Smucker predicted if this trend continues, that “industrial green use would make a bigger change than retail” on the overall emissions that the U.S. currently produces.
Smucker uses his resources to benefit the community
Smucker is also using this eco-friendly paint in service of his faith community, namely Berkey Avenue Mennonite Church, where he and his wife, Barb, attend. When the church was considering a renovation to accommodate their rising attendance several years ago, Smucker offered to help the congregation find ways to utilize the space they already had. With a little bit of shifting around, three new children’s Sunday School rooms were created, all painted with Re-coat colors that the classes chose themselves.
Smucker also made a leap toward a more eco-friendly workplace by installing solar panels a little over a year ago. He said that it was not a quick decision, but rather one that he wanted to make sure everyone could benefit from. Because he owns the building, but rents it to Snyder Paints, it was important that the solar installation be both viable as an investment and a financial benefit to the renter. However, it was also important to Smucker that the system’s capacity cover 100% of the business’s electrical use, so solar panels felt like the right choice to achieve that goal.
“Putting in the panels made us conscious on a daily basis about how we use energy,” said Smucker. “Wherever you’re repeating something a lot, that’s where you need to think about minimizing impact. It’s about paying attention to our habits.”